Leaning into venture capital: Investment opportunities in times of change

capital investor outlook early 2022
Written by
Lisa Martens
Lisa Martens
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“Great investors see the world as it is, not what they want it to be.”

Michael E. Drew, Drew Walk & Co

Set against a backdrop of constantly fluctuating global markets, this statement from the chair of our Governance Committee, Dr. Michael E. Drew, perfectly crystallises the necessary mindset for investors.

At its core, venture capital solves society’s obstacles through innovation.

Here at Sprint, we invest in exceptional founders who are driven by an unquenchable desire to build a better future. We look for, and mentor, disruptive companies who are trailblazers across environmental, social and governance domains. By investing in companies with socially-minded missions, we can ensure that their growth is sustainable and long-term, ultimately maximising returns to our investors. In the current macroeconomic and geopolitical environment, investors need to seek better alternatives to control risk and maximise return.

In crises there is opportunity. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the resulting global disruption and tragedy has led to a paradigm shift in our cultural expectations and behaviours. From the semi-replacement of face-to-face interactions with digital solutions to the exponential growth of eCommerce, COVID has fostered innovation like no other event – perhaps since the ascension of the Internet. 

The Sprint Portfolio

In early 2021, we invested in YouPay, a revolutionary fintech company that is making waves and taking advantage of shifting consumer sentiment. When meeting with its founders – Matt Holme & Dan Brett – we instantly recognised their passion and the enormous potential of the company. They understood the boom in eCommerce and the fundamental flaws of the buy-now pay-later (BNPL) model. By allowing a shopper to send their cart to a payer who can finalise the transaction (and avoid debt!), YouPay addresses the trillion-dollar global issue of abandoned online shopping carts. 

COVID-19 also sent global supply chains into mayhem, leading to rising costs, delays in transportation and issues with sourcing materials and workforce availability and dynamics. Making the most of this crisis, Hoops increases the efficiency and productivity of companies in the merchandise and manufacturing space, allowing them to be cost-effective and nimble in a constantly-evolving environment. 

Climate change is undoubtedly another pressing and pervasive crisis. Sprint supports founders in energy sustainability and water usage.  Leading carbon-neutral energy provider, Radian Energy, was Sprint’s second investment. Radian’s vision is to minimise the financial and environmental cost of energy, reinvesting a portion of its profits into social impact projects. In addition, we invested in Leakster in late 2020, a company that monitors and detects water distribution pipeline leaks – enabling water utilities to make more efficient asset management decisions, all whilst saving clean water.

The recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has highlighted the need for respect, care and dignity for older people in our community. Sprint plays a critical role in the aged care and research incubator CareFactor, which facilitates the development of transformative solutions to meet the challenges of our ageing society. From our involvement in this sector, we have identified and invested in three exceptional companies in this space. Umps Health provides smart home technology to support older Australians to remain safe, well and independent at home for longer. Hayylo enables seamless communication between individuals, families and aged care providers, providing meaningful connections and excellent care. Medistays provides a digital booking platform for medical accommodation bookings and complementary services such as medical equipment, prescriptions and groceries.

VC’s Role In A Balanced Portfolio

It is fundamental to a diverse portfolio that it contains a sleeve of venture capital. In uncertain times, we need to lean into risk in a controlled way. The Sprint Ventures Expansion Capital Fund allows investors to build a curated portfolio of opportunities in Australia’s most innovative start-ups. Sprint’s combination of deep domain expertise and rigorous due diligence process is proving to be a winning combination, as we strive to invest in the best ideas from founders.

We’re constantly on the lookout for the next great investment opportunity. Over the past year, we have reviewed over 1000 promising startups, ultimately backing eleven exceptional companies. It’s a great privilege to work with our investors and the brilliant minds driving our portfolio companies, as we build a better future.

Authors: Georgia Barkell, Sprint Chief Operating Officer and Michael E. Drew, Chair Sprint Governance Committee.

At Sprint, we invest in Australia’s best opportunities. If you’re an early stage or growth stage founder, Sprint can help you secure investment and support your growth with leading industry advisors. Apply for funding and we’ll sprint with you.